PRACTICE TIPS FOR BOWHUNTING TURKEYS - by Tracy Breen
PREPARE FOR OPENING DAY NOW
Turkey season is right around the corner. If you are planning on turkey hunting with a bow this spring, now is the time to start preparing. Bowhunting turkeys can be extremely challenging and often the most successful bowhunters are the ones who pay attention to the little details. Below are a few details that all bowhunters must think about long before opening day of turkey season if they want to be successful.
PRACTICE FROM A BLIND
Turkey hunters who plan to bowhunt turkeys must decide if they will use a blind or hunt without a blind. The problem with hunting from a blind is it greatly reduces the mobility of a bowhunter, but it allows them to draw a bow without being seen by a turkey, which is a huge benefit. For those who choose to hunt from a blind, I suggest they practice shooting out of the blind several times before hunting. On one occasion, I made the mistake of bowhunting turkeys out of a pop-up blind I had purchased only days before I took it hunting. The vertical windows on this blind didn’t go as low as I would have liked. In addition, I had the legs on my portable chair adjusted too low. When I shot at a nearby longbeard, the arrow hit the bottom of the window and deflected the arrow. The gobbler lived another day. If I would have practiced multiple times out of the blind, I would have realized where my chair needed to be in order to get a good shot out of the small window.
MOVE YOUR TARGET AROUND WHEN PRACTICING
One thing I always do when practicing in a blind is move my archery target to several different distances. I will place my target five yards away from my blind and take a few shots. One of the main reasons I do this is because gobblers will sometimes sneak into a setup and get very close to the blind, which makes taking a shot difficult. Sometimes the window gets in the way of the close shots. I like to practice at these close distances so I know how to properly take far and close shots out of a blind. Many hunters miss close up shots more often than they do at 30-yard shots. Knowing how to properly execute close shots and judge and aim properly at close ranges can be very difficult. I practice shooting out of all the different windows on my blind so I know exactly what to do when hunting from a blind.
RUNNING AND GUNNING PRACTICE
Running and gunning can be a lot of fun. If bowhunting turkeys without a blind sounds like fun to you, there are a couple things you can do to increase your odds of success. When practicing in the backyard, bowhunters should make a point of holding their bow at full draw for long periods of time before aiming and firing at the target. Holding at full draw can be difficult. Aiming when you have muscle fatigue can be physically and mentally challenging, but if this skill can be mastered, the odds of killing a bird increase. Joel Maxfield from Mathews Archery runs and guns with a bow in his hand often. He typically hunts in front of the largest tree he can find to break up his outline. He draws his bow well in advance of the shot. “Turkeys have amazing eyesight and I often get busted when trying to draw my bow. One way I increase my odds of pulling off a shot is by drawing my bow when a bird is behind a distant tree or close but not completely in view,” Maxfield said. “My odds of getting a shot increase when drawing my bow well in advance, but holding my bow at full draw for an extended period can be difficult.” Practicing holding a bow at full draw for as long as you can and still making a good shot is something all run and gun turkey hunters should practice often before season.
RUNNING AND GUNNING WITH A 2D DECOY
One of the greatest ways to pull off a shot on a gobbler if a bowhunter is running and gunning is to attach a 2D turkey decoy to a bow. There are several companies that make these types of decoys, but if you plan on using this type of decoy, make sure you practice with it attached to your bow. These types of decoys are great for bowhunters who run and gun for turkeys, but the weight of the decoy attached to the bow can easily throw off the balance of the bow. Practicing with the decoy attached is a must.
DON'T FORGET THE KWIK STAND
When bowhunting turkeys from a blind or when running and gunning, keeping the bow in the upright position and ready to shoot can be difficult. In a blind, most hunters lay their bow on the ground and have to pick up the bow and get in position to shoot. When running and gunning, most hunters either keep the bow upright or lay it down besides them. The answer to the problem is the Pine Ridge Archery Kwik Stand. The Kwik Stand attaches to the bottom limb of a bow and has two legs that keep the bow balanced and upright. When it is time to shoot, the bowhunter can grab their bow slip the Kwik Stand off of the bow and shoot. The bow is always vertical and ready to shoot when the Kwik Stand is attached. This might not sound like a big deal, but every little bit of movement can reduce the odds of getting a shot on a gobbler. A Kwik Stand can reduce the amount of movement and noise a bowhunter makes before the shot.
Bowhunting turkeys can be fun and challenging. Increase your odds this spring by practicing in your backyard, just like you will hunt in the woods.